It is a life skill
When my youngest brother got enlisted in the army, I did not sleep the night before he went in. I cried, my heart raced, and my mind could not settle. He is my baby brother and I had heard too many horror stories of people who never survived training, and even worse stories of people who went in and never came back the same, or any at all. My mother had not eaten for days leading up to this point as her unsettled heart and mind would not let her be.
In retrospect, I believe the reason I felt this way was because one of the stories I heard that stuck with me, however fictitious it may or may not have been; was that during training, trainees were brought out to sea on a boat and thrown into the deep, followed by the ghastly instruction to swim (or drown).
Unable to incite mutiny, the budding trooper learned to swim, not necessarily because of prior training, but because their lives depended on it. I never actually heard of any drowning incidents. I would like to believe that there were lifeguards on the lookout to mitigate any possibility of fatality. If one were not able to stay afloat, I imagine that the result would be that you would fail the course of training and be sent back home, since you did not possess this imperative “life skill”.
Survive the Waves
Five years later and my brother still serves his country in the army. I still have no idea where he must have learnt to swim. A part of me would like to think he rode the waves not because he could swim, but because he did not want to drown.
Isn't that how life is sometimes? I always tell my friends that “you never know how strong you are, until you have no other choice but to be”. In this case, you never know you can swim, until you knew you did not want to drown, and none of us wants that. I believe God, in His sovereignty, knew we would encounter those things that would consume us and that is why in Isaiah chapter 43 verse 2 we see Him comforting us through the prophet that “when you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown….”
God knows that life is full of deep waters, but He allows us to go through them so we can put our faith to the test. The truth is, if we were never to encounter impossible situations we would never have need for the God of possibilities.
In Exodus 3, we learn the story of one of the most renowned soldiers in God’s army, Moses, in his conversation with God, he reminded the omniscient creator that he could not speak well, as if God did not already know his shortcomings. He defeated himself by alluding to the fact that no one would listen to someone like him with such a significant stutter. I reckon that Egypt was Moses’ deep-water experience, forcing Him to trust that I AM was really who He said He was, and dismissing his own incompetence, holding his breath as he trusted The Father of his fathers to help him survive the many waves and turmoil that would later seek to consume him while he carried out God’s mandate.
Our very existence as living, breathing beings is synonymous to a toss into the deep. How many times have we wondered how come our parents never told us “adulting” was so hard? I imagine we might have even wondered why God chose to use our parents as conduits to drag us from eternity into time to be in this chaos. Yet, here we are, forced to live, breathe, be, and swim.
God forbid that we should constantly be faced with situations we just never knew we could handle, that was too much for us. We did not think we had the skill or the resources, but the alternative was literally non-existent. Our life depended on it, our family’s wellbeing, our mental health, our heritage, our marriage, everything was on the line, so you had to swim.
I remember thinking that I could never survive living on my own until I was told that I had to leave where I was, with less than one month to find a new place. My income was not enough to support a move that would most likely cost me more than what I was currently contributing. I did not own a piece of furniture, a bed, a pot, nothing; but somehow having no other choice, I figured it out. We always do.
And this is where the real growth takes place. The truth is, complacency stunts growth, comfort zones kill progression. We need to become uncomfortable for us to grow. When we are faced with hardship, we must understand that God is not punishing us, He is positioning us.
Unless you go through it and face it, you will not be able to be elevated to the next level. God is not in the business of killing us, so even when it feels like the alternative is drowning, we can always remind ourselves like the psalmist in Psalm chapter 118 verse 17 that “I shall not die but live and declare what the Lord has done…” then if you are not going to die, it simply means that you had it in you to swim all along, you just did not know it yet. Keep swimming.
Tamieka Pennant Dussard is a poet and writer, who has served in youth ministries mentoring young people both in Canada (current home) and Jamaica. She is the Director of “Young Wives Uncensored” a social organization which seeks to provide support and accountability to young, married women. She hopes to continue to use her gifts and experiences to motivate young people and share God with the world. She also enjoys cooking and sharing flexi-vegan recipes (IG: ltdkitchen)